Zebra Studios and MonkWilliams have joined forces to become Central Station.
The independent agency is led by five partners: Paul Perkins, Joe Angellotti and John Boniface from Zebra Studios, and Brad Monk and David Williams of MonkWilliams.
Boniface, who previously worked with Monk and Williams at Draft FCB, is serving as the combined agency’s president, while Monk has taken on the role of creative director.
Boniface told Marketing that Zebra’s strength in design, fabrication, retail and digital, combined with MonkWilliams expertise in strategic planning, consumer insights, and “high concept creative,” makes the merger a win-win for both agencies. The two shops have also worked together in the past (Zebra handled digital for the national rollout of Molson Coors’ Mad Jack apple lager)
The alliance came with no account conflicts.
“We really did see an opportunity to bring together two complimentary skills sets that nicely merged and dovetailed with what we believe clients are really looking for,” Boniface said. “Both were successful in their own right and growing, and had complimentary and non-conflicting clients which is interesting when you have a merger.”
“This is a coming together that wasn’t a result of what you’re seeing in the news today, which is consolidations and backroom,” Boniface added “This was two independent companies that were growing… It’s something we didn’t have to do, but something that we saw an incredible opportunity in and an incredible chance to grow and do better work.”
Central Station is based in Toronto, and the shop’s 32 employees moved into their new offices about two weeks ago. Its client roster includes Nike, Molson Coors, Nestle, Hudson’s Bay Company, Weetabix, Lindt and Humber Regional Hospital.
The name Central Station is meant to suggest a busy transit hub, a place where “things start and emanate from,” said Monk.
“We really look at creative and ideas and developing brands as a journey that can take you anywhere,” Monk said. “The expression lines that come from our logo we call tracks and they represent the limitless direction that you can go with a brand.”
Central Station is currently working on launching a new national brand from Molson Coors, and with Nike on executions surrounding the NBA All-Star Game, which is set to take place in Toronto on Feb. 13. It’s also on the hunt for a few additional creative and account services staffers.
The shop’s mission statement, “Arrive Together,” is meant to signal a new way of working with clients, a move away from big presentations and reveals, and towards a more inclusive creative process with brands kept in the loop from beginning to end.
“It’s a better way of working, it’s a better way of building relationships and building trust,” Boniface explained. “We’re not looking to hide behind a curtain.”